Z I N D A M A G A Z I N E
Kanoon I 28, 6749 December 28, 1999
|Good Morning Bet-Nahrain||Christmas Celebrations in Syria
Christmas in Basra
|News Digest||Assyrian Wrestler Detained in Azerbaijan|
|Surfs Up||"and a joyous and prosperous Y2K"|
|Surfers Corner||The Syriac Computing Institute's Call for Support|
|Assyrian Surfing Posts||Assyrian Alabaster Relief at Mead Art Museum
Assyrian Soldiers Towing a Boat
Chart of Central Events in the Ancient Near East
|Literatus||A Babylonian Theodicy|
|Bravo||Carol Kreeger Davidson|
|Pump Up the Volume||Year & Century|
|Back to the Future||Ashur Uballit I & Sir Loftus|
|This Week in History||The Exodus of 1915|
|Calendar of Events||December 1999|
All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites.
The late William Daniel, while traveling from Iran to Lebanon, arrives at the ruins of Nineveh and finds himself surrounded by the ancient Assyrian walls and the partially uncovered artifacts. Some fifty years later, sitting on his bed in California and sipping his favorite herbal tea, in his own words he took me back to that day: “I knelt by one of the ruined walls and looked around. How could it all vanish? At that moment I could do nothing but to write my thoughts in prose”, said Rabbie Daniel. It was here, by the ruins of that Great City, that he wrote his immortal song “Nineveh”. Eleven years ago this month, once again I sat next to his bed watching over him with disdain for my people's apathy. Only two days before, he had been hit by an automobile and was now laying there struggling for the few remaining breathes of life. Ironically, he had earlier that month described the state of the people he loved so much as a “nation in coma.”
This week we end another chapter of our nation's history, struggling for a few remaining precious words to make sense of our losses and accomplishments in the past one hundred years—perhaps only to affirm Rabbie Daniel’s final depiction.
To the Assyrian Sons and Daughters in A.D. 2099:
When it took more than seven months for an Assyrian king to travel from Nineveh to Egypt and nearly ten years to defeat a neighboring enemy -- in a time when the Assyrians tolerated hundreds of different religions, ethnicities, and cultural traditions for the glory of one omnipotent ruler of the Heavens, we were kings. We ruled the known world. In the olden days, the men and women of integrity and principle led us from the Ziggurats of Sumer to the palaces of Dur-Sharrukin, from the fallen armies of Nineveh and Babylon to the majestic churches of Tur-Abdin, and from the burning villages of Urmia to the Conference halls of Loussanne. They studied their history and with little courage were able to surpass the greatness that we usually arrogate to the likes of Ashurbanipal and Shemiram. Alas, tonight on the eve of a new century we are being led astray by self-congratulating cowards ashamed of their identity, unholy men of God, and the modern-day Hachagoke.
The mass exodus of 1915, and again in 1918, and finally in the 1970's were not the experiences we wished to remember; neither were the massacres between 1915 and 1933, the war between Iran and Iraq, the assassinations of our Patriarchs, and the rise to power of our puppet leaders. Today we possess no political or economic power. Only a handful of our children, outside of our homeland, can read and write in our mother tongue. They are taught that they are Chaldean, Suryoyo, Aramean, Urmian, Suraye- anything but who they really are. For the sake of personal glory, we have compromised our true identity.
We, the comatose children of the Twentieth Century massacres and betrayals, desperately hunger for a leader. We long for a pathfinder who will put her interests before those of her beloved Assyrian nation and lead us to freedom, self-determination, and the Promised Land. The “Ishtar of the 21st Century” will descend to the depth of our fears and seek her Dummuzi of our national struggle. She will send her Heavenly Bull to destroy the monsters hiding behind their long robes, and return to us our honor, our unity, our dignity. Once again we will believe in ourselves.
Now that on the brink of the 22nd Century, you stand tall and proud of your Assyrian heritage and dwell in the homes of your own Assyrian towns and cities, govern your own people’s destiny and worship God in the most grandiose cathedrals of Ashur, Arbela, and Nineveh, know that a few of us today braved the seas of ignorance and apathy. We marched through bloodless battlefields, silenced the voices of deception, and let not our Assyrian flag fall in the hands of the enemy. We sacrificed everything- the comfort of a simple life, the warmth of the beloved’s embrace, and the material rewards of this earthly life. We heard the voice from within and in humility before God we faught for the rights of our children in Bet-Nahrain- the land you now call home.
One hundred years ago, men and women of integrity much like the Assyrian heroes and heroines of your century, stood up in the hour of desperate need, and armed with honor, courage and love, rescued us from complete annihilation. They were often conquered but never defeated.
Once again that hour has come upon us and we pray for deliverance. A “goddess of liberty” must now rise to the occasion and transcend herself to bring harmony and unity to the four corners of Bet-Nahrain. She must exemplify the courage of her fathers in the battles of Harran, Salamas, and Khabour. Empowered by the prayers of tearful mothers, from Turlock to Tehran, she must lead the armies of Assyrian youth in Sweden, Canada, and Russia to the doorsteps of the international courts of law. Many will perish in the prison yards of Ankara, Baghdad and Damascus; but, she will not retreat her forces of truth and justice . Unafraid to die, the savior of her people will bring us out of darkness and help us see the Rays of Light. She will awaken us and we will no longer dawdle in our present state of self-pity. Unlike the men who cheat us and revel with their affluent bosses, the Lioness of Babylon will face these cardinals of desolation and destroy their evil intentions with her compassion for our children not yet born.
You children of Omta, reading this letter at home in Ashur, know that your freedom and your peace were paid with the sacrifices made at the most sacred of all altars- that of liberty and honor. Protect your homeland from the enemies within and those outside of your borders.
More than a hundred years ago we learned about our roots and we discovered our glorious past. We were not whom they had taught us in their sacred books. We were the children of the Father, the Land, and the Nation of Ashur. We could no longer be called anything else. As with the tormented prodigal children of a merciful father, we demanded to return to the house we had abandoned. After 2500 years of disillusionment and wandering, we wanted to go home. It was at this time that the He showed us the way. It was the way of suffering; something we understood much too well. And so martyrs were born again.
We followed our dreams and took the long path to the land between the rivers of Life and Knowledge. This was Bet-Nahrain. A few of our able leaders began transforming themselves and in the process transformed us. They shook the hands of our enemies in peace and became target of a their bullets. They trusted the brethren of their faith and were expelled from our homeland. They were left to die in the train stations of the far away countries and burned alive in the church yards of our ancient monasteries. Our people confronted persecutions and more than two-third of our population perished in less than twenty years. But we did not yield to the forces of injustice. They could not break our spirit. No longer able to tolerate our tenacity, they threw us out into the dark and cold streets of Diaspora. They thought that we would forget our dreams and slowly pursue the dreams of other nations.
Tired of suffering, ridicule, and humiliation, we began to abandon our dreams and decided to stay. What mattered was that our children would not have to make the same sacrifices as we and our parents had. We wanted happiness in the world. We did not care if our smiling children spoke our language, loved one another, or did charity for the ones we had left behind.
Some of us on the other hand, with love, courage, and hope, found a way to bring our forces in Diaspora together. The children of the simple men and women of Kharput, Gavilan, and Tiari, began communicating from Oslo and Austria with the dreamers in San Francisco and Fairfield. First there was one “spark of fire”, then two, then a hundred, and in less than five years we built an inferno that began scorching the rotten roots of amnesia and illuminated our path to the Land of the Two Rivers. We had enough faith to move and transform the thoughts of a generation of our brothers and sisters. Thousands followed us in our silent revolution. It is from this army of dreamers that the Inanna of Arbil will one day, in your century, emerge to sanctify the alter of martyrdom and avenge the souls of the sons and daughters of Bet-Nahrain.
Our century was draped with tears, exiles, decimation, and denial. It was also laden with signs of hope, confluence, and remorse. We believed in the miracle that in your life-time you will realize the aspirations of Ishaya, Petros, and Faiq. Because of your compassion, Hakim Atouraya’s eagle will finally land by the River of Life and rest his weary body. Today I sit down by the shores of a distant ocean, contemplating the sufferings you will have to endure to fulfill our destiny, to fight injustice, and to build a new Empire. I am numb, but full of hope; I am cold, but full of life. And I remain forever Assyrian.
GOOD MORNING BET-NAHRAIN
ASSYRIANS CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS IN SYRIA
(ZNDA: Damascus) According to a report in ArabicNews.Com a large Mass led by His Holiness Mar Agnatuis Zakka Ewas I was held at Mar Gewargiz Cathedral of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Damascus. According to this report the Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church "stressed the noble and sublime values of Christmas and extended his congratulations to all Muslims and Christians in the Arab homeland on the occasion of Christmas and the holy month of Ramadan."
Similarly, Rev. Botrous Zaour of the Anglican Church in Syria and Asadour Bateikha of the Greek-Catholic Church in Damascus spoke about the message of Christ and freedom from sin and suffering. Christmas celebrations were also reported in Aleppo and Homs.
According to the same report, Wahib
Fadel, Syrian Minister for Presidential Affairs, visited the leaders of
the Syrian Christian communities in Damascus and conveyed President Hafiz
al-Assad's Christmas greetings.
(ZNRU: Baghdad) Several Americans who oppose the U.S. government's policy on Iraq ended a Christmas visit Tuesday meant to focus attention on the suffering of Iraqi children. During their week-long visit, the eight American Catholic members of the Voices in the Wilderness spent Christmas among the Iraqi Christian community in Basra, a city some 335 miles south of Baghdad.
"We spent Christmas morning in one of the hospitals where we saw for ourselves infants dying because there is never enough medicine," said Chuck Quilty of Rock Island, Illinois. Voices in the Wilderness is a U.S. group that has been among the most vocal organizations calling for an end to U.N. trade and travel sanctions against Iraq. The U.S. government has insisted that sanctions remain until Iraq convinces the United Nations it has surrendered its weapons of mass destruction and its capability to produce them.
Critics argue the sanctions hurt ordinary Iraqis, denying them basics such as food and medicine. Earlier this year, U.N. Children's Fund chief Carol Bellamy said the trade sanctions weren't the only reason for the plight of Iraqi children. She also cited Iraq's wars with its neighbors and its government's lack of investment in children's health care. A UNICEF report in August concluded that in state-controlled areas of Iraq, the mortality rate among children under 5 had more than doubled in 10 years.
Another sympathetic visitor, British Member of Parliament George Galloway, was hailed by the official Iraqi media on Monday for his "spirit of knighthood." Galloway, a member of the ruling Labor Party, had announced plans to fly in a planeload of medicine early next year. Galloway also said he was collecting donations to build a cancer hospital in Baghdad.
In November, Galloway wound up a two-month journey across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East on a double-decker London bus in a campaign to drum up support for lifting the U.N. sanctions.
The maverick left-wing Scottish politician met Monday with Iraqi Vice-Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council Izzat Ibrahim.
The United Nations imposed economic sanctions
on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Iraq says the sanctions have caused
well over 1 million deaths.
ASSYRIAN WRESTLER DETAINED IN AZERBAIJAN
(ZNDA: Baku) According to a BBC report, the former world wrestling champion, Viktor Avdyshev, was detained last week in Azerbaijan. The text of the report by the Azerbaijani newspaper 'Azadlyg' on 22nd December entitled "Viktor Avdyshev, Wanted in Ukraine, Detained in Azerbaijan" indicated that the officers of the "department to combat organized crime" have detained the Assyrian wrestler, Viktor Avdyshev who was on a "Ukrainian law enforcement agencies' wanted list." The Ukrainian law enforcement agencies has charged Avdyshev, known in the criminal world by the nickname "Avdysh", with racketeering. Viktor Avdyshev won the 1977 world Graeco-Roman wrestling championship and was a prize-winner at numerous international competitions.
"I wish all Assyrians and you a world of happiness and good luck in New 2000. I hope it'll be peaceful and happy. Happy New Year and Merry Christmas!"
Thank you again for e-mailing me Zinda, because I really enjoy reading it. Wishing you a Holiday season filled with beautiful moments and happy memories, and Happy New Year 2PPP."
Romina R. Pourtaverdi
Shamasha Lawrance Namato
In this letter of 1871, the Rev. J. H. Shedd reported on the work in Urmia. In his letter he describes the remnant of the ancient Nestorian church after the massacres of Tamerlane and the century of Mohammaden oppression.
In 1835, the Nestorian, Mar Yohannan rode out to meet the first wave of Protestant missionaries. He assisted the Rev. Justin Perkins in reducing the spoken Syriac language to a systematic form, which could be printed. In 1840 the printing press arrived. The people exclaimed "it is time to give glory to God since printing is begun among our people" The first death in the missionary band was Mrs. Grant, wife of Dr. Grant. She was 25. To the Nestorians about her, she said: "Christ is my all. If I have one desire to live, it is for you and your people. For myself, I am ready to depart" The bishops said "we will bury her in the church where none but holy men are buried and we will dig her grave with our own hands. In December 1845 revival came to the boys school. In January of 1845, revival also came to the girls' school, under the direction of Miss Fiske who arrived in 1843. Other revivals followed.
On August 7, 1918, the Rev. Dr. William A. Shedd, son of J.H. Shedd, died of cholera at Sainkala as he was escorting refugees from Urmia to Hamadan. There is much more to tell about these valiant worthies preserved at the Archives in Pennsylvania.
Perhaps Dr. Sonyel could supply the names of those Assyrians who "surely remember with nostalgia the good old days of the Ottoman Empire"."
Irene Aurahan Kliszus
THE SYRIAC COMPUTING INSTITUTE'S CALL FOR SUPPORT
For the past few years, the Syriac Computing Institute (SyrCOM) has been working on the design and implementation of a Syriac system for the Windows platform, which we hope to make available to the public FREE of charge in the first quarter of 2000. The software will work on any Windows 2000 machine, allowing users to write Syriac texts in various fonts and scripts (Estrangelo, Serto or West Syriac, and East Syriac). While the work accomplished by SyrCOM and its associates is a service to the community, the production of first-class fonts for the system is somewhat costly. SyrCOM (a non-profit organization) is seeking the financial support of institutions and individuals.
The first step of the project was to have Syriac added to Unicode, the newly international coding scheme, which is a prerequisite to have Syriac work under Windows. SyrCOM participated in putting forward a proposal to the Unicode Technical Committee (see http://www.unicode.org/pending/syriac). The proposal was accepted by the Unicode Consortium and the International Standard Organization. In fact, through the laborious work of Mr. Paul Nelson at Microsoft, there is already now built-in support for Syriac in the forthcoming Windows 2000 Operating System, with Syriac Unicode support.
Although Project Meltho was initially aimed at ‘word-processing’, it has matured now into a full Syriac support for the Windows 2000 Operating System, allowing users to use Syriac in any Windows-based application that uses published Uniscribe APIs (the functions that handle complex scripts in Windows). This gives the end-user a wide range of applications to use Syriac with: word-processing, databases, Web pages, emails, presentations, etc. This also means that programmers who wish to program special applications for Syriac will not have to do any special handling for Syriac text; Windows handles it for them! Additionally, Syriac is in the list of languages that will be supported by the next version of Office products (i.e., Word, Access, PowerPoint, etc.). Already, the web browser Internet Explorer 5 supports Syriac using Unicode encoding. All this is possible provided the user has the appropriate (not any) Syriac fonts.
Project Meltho aims at providing the appropriate Syriac fonts for the Syriac-users community FREE of charge. To achieve this, SyrCOM made use of Kiraz’s fonts for the DOS-based Multi-Lingual Scholar software, and created from them new OpenType fonts. The OpenType font scheme is the latest font technology; it allows for automatic contextual replacement of letters (e.g., initial, medial, final), the accurate positioning of vowels and points per letter (e.g., high diacritic on Lomadh, but low on Yudh), the creation of ligatures, etc.
SyrCOM believes that the quality of its fonts must be outstanding and must be of the quality of other Latin fonts that users are accustomed to. Hence, SyrCOM plans to have the final ‘touches’ of its fonts completed by a professional typographer. This includes ‘cleaning-up’ the fonts, making sure that spacing is accurate, and providing Latin support in the Syriac fonts in order to use them in multi-lingual documents without having to change the font every time the user goes from Syriac to Latin. Additionally, the professional typographer will ‘hint’ the fonts, a process that makes the fonts readable at low-resolutions (e.g., screens for Web pages, and 9- or 8-pt printing).
A leading professional typographer, with an outstanding record in foreign-language font design (especially Arabic which presents the same challenges Syriac does), has agreed to work on the SyrCOM fonts. The cost to produce each font will be $1500. In order to cover its expense, SyrCOM is calling academic and community institutions, and end-users to support this endeavor through its ‘Adopt a Syriac Font Program’. Institutions and individuals may chose to adopt an entire font for $1500, or parts of a font for $500. In the latter case, SyrCOM will put together the contributions of three contributors to cover the cost of a font. The names of contributors will appear in the font itself, on the SyrCOM Web site, and on any publication of SyrCOM regarding Project Meltho. Please note that this money does NOT go to SyrCOM or any of its staff. All work done by the SyrCOM staff is voluntary and constitutes a service to the community.
The fonts will be distributed by SyrCOM to users FREE of charge through its web site. The fonts will be copyrighted by SyrCOM, and no commercial use of them will be allowed by any party including SyrCOM. The fonts will cover Estrangelo, Serto (West Syriac), and East Syriac. In addition to supporting Classical Syriac, full support will be given for Turoyo, Swadaya (modern Assyrian), Garshuni, and Christian-Palestinian Aramaic.
If you think your library, university, church, or club can make use of the SyrCOM fonts, please do your best to convince the people in charge to adopt a font. If you have the means to support the project, your contribution will be a valuable service to the community. Pending funds, SyrCOM plans to have the fonts available to the public in the first quarter of 2000. Please act swiftly.
SyrCOM would like to thank the following for their financial support:
Acknowledgments are also due to Paul Nelson of Microsoft for adding the Syriac support in Windows 2000 on his free time. The Unicode Proposal was made possible through the timeless efforts of Paul Nelson, George Kiraz, and Sargon Hasso. Microsoft, in the persons of Michel Suignard and Murray Sargent, kindly acted as a sponsor for Syriac at the Unicode Technical Committee, and in the person of Andy Abbar, provided SyrCOM with software at the early stages of this project. For further information and contributions, please contact George A. Kiraz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributors may make checks payable to "The Syriac Computing Institute" and send them to G. Kiraz, 46 Orris Ave, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.
George A. Kiraz, Ph.D.
The Syriac Computing Institute
Birth Announcements and Obituaries
Vica Ouchana of Maple Street, New Britain, died Wednesday at New Britain General Hospital. He was 54.
He was born in Tehran, Iran, and lived in Yonkers, N.Y., before moving to New Britain in 1984. He was employed at Northeast Utilities in Berlin for the past 15 years and was a member of St. Thomas Assyrian Church of the East, the Assyrian National Association and the Assyrian Club, all in New Britain.
He is survived by his wife, Norik Youhan Ouchana; two sons, Vincent Ouchana of Montana and Victor Ouchana of South Carolina; a daughter, Veronique Ouchana of Georgia; a brother, William Ouchana of Glendale, Calif.; a sister, Vera Ouchana of Yonkers; and several nieces and nephews.
Donations may be made to St. Thomas Assyrian Church of the East, Cabot Street, New Britain, CT 06051 or Marmari Church, 129-131 Buena Vista Ave., Yonkers, NY 10701.
Nina Younano Pourdavood of Farmington Avenue, New Britain, died Sunday. Born in Russia, she lived in New Britain since 1980 and was a member of St. Thomas Church of the East in New Britain.
She is survived by her husband, Youave Pourdavood; two daughters, Bella Dooman and Karolin Betoushana, both of New Britain; her mother, Narenji Younano in Iran; three brothers, Joseph Yacob of Chicago, and Mikhail and Zaya Younano, both of Iran; two sisters, Tamara Aivez of New Britain and Sonya Nissani of Iran; three grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
Links to Other Assyrian Websites
Alabaster Relief at Mead Art Museum
Assyrian Soldiers Towing a Boat
Chart of Central Events in the Ancient Near East
A BABYLONIAN THEODICY
ca. 2000 B.C.
From Distant Days..., FosterI have looked around in society, indications are the contrary:
God does not block the progress of demon.
A father hauls a boat up a channel,
While his firstborn sprawls in bed.
The eldest son is content to drive a donkey.
The heir struts the street like a peddler,
The youngest son makes provision for the destitute.
What has it profited me that I knelt before my god?
It is I who must now bow before my inferior!
The riffraff despise me as much as the rich and proud.
CAROL KREEGER DAVIDSON
Carol Kreeger Davidson has been sculpting the abstract figure in metal for many years, and the works in this exhibit are perhaps her consummate expression of it. Abstract allegories of Assyrian gods, the figures from the Days of Danger series are powerful and violent. In contrast, the more recent Designated Angels is joyful, celebratory and protective, while the fallen Troy speaks eloquently of the destruction of an ancient city.
A native of Chicago, Carol Kreeger Davidson is a graduate of Northwestern University, the University of Hartford Art School, and the Rhode Island School of Design. She is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Asia Foundation, and the Commissions for the Arts of both Connecticut and New York. She live and works in New York and West Hartford, Connecticut.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
BC (14th Century)
Ashur-Uballit I, king of Assyria, with the help of the Hittites destroys the dominion of the Mitanni (a non-Semitic people) and allies himself with the Kassite successors in Babylonia. He successfully ended the Hittite and Hurrian rule.
Encyclopædia Britannica Online
Sir William Kennett Loftus is sent to Nimrud by the British Museum with the support of the Assyrian Exploration Fund. During his work through 1855, Loftus discovered a new palace, the Southeast or Burnt Palace, on the citadel at Nimrud.
Assyrian Reliefs & Ivories...
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
January 2, 1915 : More than 10,000 Assyrians from Urmia follow the retreating Russian armies into Georgia and Russian Azerbaijan.
THE MILLENNIUM GALA
The Assyrian American
Association of San Jose proudly presents
Package includes complete dinner with appetizer and dessert, two complimentary
Wine/Beer drinks or four soft drinks, Champagne toast , after mid-night
coffee/tea service and the best Assyrian and international dance music
Tickets will only be sold at the Assyrian American Association of San Jose
20000 Almaden Road, San Jose
October 2nd to October 21
member $120 non-member $130
NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY
Celebrate the Millennium
TREASURES FROM THE ROYAL TOMBS OF UR
Organized by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of
On view are approximately 150 artifacts excavated from
the ancient city-state of Ur in 1922 during an expedition led by British
archaeologist C. Leonard Woolley. Many of the objects are from the tomb
of the female Puabi and include jeweled headdresses, chokers, necklaces,
rings and earrings, musical instruments, games, furniture, and vessels.
Ur, the traditional birthplace of the biblical patriarch Abraham and the
city under protection of the ancient Mesopotamian moon-god, was located
on the western bank of the Euphrates River in what is now southern Iraq.
MEMORIAL OF ST. EPHREM
Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Assyrian Rite (Chaldean
FIRST ASSYRIAN MIDI COMPOSERS CONFERENCE
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